Derby

Sea-Watch 3: Crew and migrants dock boat in Sicily

Migrants on the Sea-Watch 3 Image copyright Reuters
Image caption The Dutch-flagged Sea-Watch 3 was prevented from docking or leaving the waters for more than 10 days

A rescue boat carrying four British crew and 47 migrants has docked after almost two weeks.

Sea-Watch 3 was barred from entering Italian waters after pulling the men and boys from the Mediterranean Sea.

Crew member Brendan Woodhouse, from Matlock, Derbyshire, said they were "hostages" as they faced legal threats from Italian minister Matteo Salvini.

On Thursday the migrants and crew cheered and hugged as they sailed into the Sicilian port of Catania.

Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte said they could all disembark on Wednesday after six countries - France, Germany, Malta, Portugal, Romania and Luxembourg - agreed to take the migrants in.

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Media captionThe crew of Sea-Watch 3 said they had been "held hostage"

The ship rescued the migrants, including 15 unaccompanied minors, on 19 January after they were spotted off Libya in a sinking dinghy in stormy waters.

Mr Woodhouse, a firefighter in Nottinghamshire, previously described how they had been "imprisoned" and "threatened with a criminal investigation for saving people's lives at sea".

"I don't see anything wrong with that, certainly there's nothing morally wrong with that and I'll live with whatever the consequences are," he added.

Also on the vessel were head of mission Kim Heaton-Heather, 37, from Brighton, chief engineer Jon Stone, a former Navy serviceman from Lincoln, and bosun Dan Bebawi, 39, from Nottingham.

A Sea-Watch spokeswoman said: "They were really happy about finally being able to reach land again. The mental stress was not bearable any longer, this insecurity, this complete loss of control over their own fate."

She said the 15 boys would go to a reception centre in Catania, while the men would be taken to Messina before being sent to other countries.

Image copyright Felix Weiss / Sea-Watch
Image caption The Italian Prime Minister agreed to let the ship anchor in Sicily after six countries offered to take the migrants in

Far-right minister Mr Salvini said he was considering legal action against the crew for aiding illegal immigration and wants to ban ships with rescued migrants from entering Italian waters.

Some 113,482 migrants crossed the Mediterranean to reach Europe last year, according to the UN refugee agency, and another 2,262 people lost their lives or went missing.

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